New CEO of Las Vegas Flight Academy (LVFA) awarded FAA’s Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award during Feb. 24 Grand Re-Opening Celebration

--LVFA CEO Ronald E. Kelly becomes one of small group of African Americans to receive distinguished FAA Award during Black History Month--

--LVFA announces Minority Pilot Advancement Foundation to bring 600 minority and women pilots into aviation industry annually--   

HENDERSON, Nev., Feb. 29, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Ronald E. Kelly, the new CEO the Las Vegas Flight Academy (LVFA), has been awarded with the distinguished Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award given by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in recognition of 50 years of safe flying. Mr. Kelly becomes one of a small group of African Americans to receive the distinguished award during the LVFA’s grand opening ceremony, appropriately held during the nation’s celebration of Black History Month.   

“Although the FAA does not track the race of Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award recipients, given that less than 3 percent of all U.S. airline pilots are African American, we can assume that the number of Wright Brothers Award recipients who are African American is very, very small,” said Dr. Alan Meyer, Associate Professor specializing in technology and aviation history at Auburn University, and author of Flying While Black, which investigates the slow pace of racial integration in the airline cockpit from the Civil Rights Era to present.

Mr. Kelly began flying sailplanes in Southern California at age 14 and later earned his private pilot’s license. Although he spent most of his professional career in real estate sales and development, aviation remained his first love. In 2004, he became part of the business venture that built an eight bay, 38,000 square foot full motion flight simulation complex for Pan Am International Flight Academy in Henderson, NV. In 2020, Kelly bought out the assets of Pan Am’s Las Vegas operation which then became Las Vegas Flight Academy.    

In addition to receiving the coveted Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award at the LVFA grand re-opening on Feb. 24, Mr. Kelly also made public for the first time the launch of his 501c3 non-profit organization called Minority Pilot Advancement Foundation, designed to educate minority teens about careers in aviation and drive generational change for them and their families. The goal of the organization is to bring 600 minority and women pilots a year into the aviation industry. Due to a nationwide pilot shortage, the FAA has dropped the need for a four-year degree as a prerequisite for employment as a pilot, opening opportunities for youth who may not realize that a career in aviation is now a possibility for them. Youth who are served by the Foundation will be trained at Flight Ventures Aviation Academy in Murrieta, CA, owned by Mr. Kelly, and Chris and Danni Haug.

About Wright Brothers Master Pilot Awards

The Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award is the most prestigious award given by the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It began in 2003 to recognize pilots who have practiced safe flight operations continuously for 50 or more years during the course of their aviation careers. To date approximately 8,000 awards have been bestowed on pilots with exceptionally safe flying records. More information on the award can be found here.

About Las Vegas Flight Academy (LVFA)

Las Vegas Flight Academy provides wet and dry safety training for professional pilots in Boeing B737-300 and B737-800 Level D full flight simulators, and holds a 142 flight center certificate. LVFA maintenance staff are highly experienced, trained, and motivated to ensure you quality training in Full Flight Simulators. LVFA instructors are former airline and military pilots and instructors with average total time exceeding 20,000 hours. LVFA offers an ATP-CPT course, initial Type ratings in the Boeing 737-800, and recurrency Boeing 737 training courses too. For more information, please visit LVFA here.


Stacey Doss, APR